Jools bought me an iPad

Once again the annual “Thatch is ignoring his birthday” rolled around like clockwork (damn you Isaac Newton), but this year Jools had plans (insert scary music here), big plans. Jools had decided that I didn’t have enough toys (seriously. Isn’t she wonderful.) and that what I needed was an iPad 2.

Now the truth be told I didn’t think I “needed” an iPad, it was more like the whole world had iPads and I was quite happy (well I thought I was …) reading my books and mail on my iPhone (silly me).

But here is the big problem with the iPad.

Once you have one it is really, really, really hard to not use it. And anyone who tries to take it away will be involved in a major struggle. I personally think that these things are harder to give up than caffeine (and/or cigarettes).

So first up these things are not “productivity tools”, I don’t care what anyone says. If it’s more involved than a tweet, a quick reply to an email or an appointment update. I am grabbing my laptop.

What these things are great at is “consumption”. Listen to music- check, watch a movie or a missed tv episode – check (isn’t the ABC’s iView wonderful?), Listen to music- check, reading e-books – check ( and this is the main thing I use it for) and emails as mentioned earlier. Did I mention Listen to music????

Everything was rolling along fine until I discovered that Korg had released a Kaos pad app (yep it’s all downhill from here)



Tales of A Zoom H4n – Shane Howard – Portarlington

Photo by Jools Thatcher
Shane Howard - Portarlington 2009
Shane Howard – photo by Jools Thatcher

Back in September last year Jools and I went off to see Shane Howard play at Harvester Moon in Portarlington. (If you aren’t on their mailing list you should be). We decided to make a bit of day of  it so we found a B&B  (with a bay view) and a totally unexpected “pick you up after the show” delivery service. Seriously cool.

On to the show.

Shane’s performance was just brilliant. With one or possibly two exception’s, all of my favourite Shane Howard gig’s have been down in Geelong/the coast/Bellarine. The evening started with Shane sort of playing his own support, his daughter Myra opened the proceedings with a really great set (Shane accompanied on guitar and backing vocals). I believe you can hear more of her on the new “Goanna Dreaming ” album. I will rummage through my recording and see if there is a track that does her justice.

Next up was Shane, just him and a guitar. It really doesn’t get much better. The set list was a reasonable stroll through his catalogue of songs, some old and some new. Of the old ones Solid Rock was my favourite (it always has been – my all-time favourite version was was the day Goanna played the Lygon St Festa, back when the Festa had bands and that was a long long time ago (someone has suggested early November in 1981? – really that long ago huh?). We walked around the corner from Queensberry Street and there they were. Complete with a Meyer sound system. Totally brilliant sound and an even better performance. and as usual, I digress.

I figure it will be the perfect song to put up.

Yes you have all heard it a million times before and one more isn’t going to hurt. Let your mind wander back to where you first heard it.

If you ever get a chance to see Shane play, grab it, he is not to be missed.

Sorry this took a year to post.

ZoomH4nBoring Tech Stuff:
The Zoom H4n recorded in Stereo @ 44.1kHz/16 bit. It was sitting in a pocket on my messenger bag and just pointed at the stage. We were about 2.5m back from the stage (second table). The room is a long skinny room with the PA above our heads.

The audio recording was cleaned up in Sound Forge.


Tales Of A Zoom H4n – Ian Bland @ Melbourne Folk Club

Ian Bland  & Greg Hunt - MelbFolkClub
Ian Bland (right) & Greg Hunt @ Melbourne Folk Club - photo by Jools Thatcher

Jools and I both decided to go out and see some live music and seeing that My Friend Ian (MFI) had scored  a gig at the Melbourne Folk Club, that seemed like a great place to start.

The Melbourne Folk club is currently down in West Brunswick and seems to have a fairly wide ranging selection of styles and performers. (Tonchi is on next week – look for us down the front).

Ian was accompanied by Greg Hunt on fiddle and mandolin and between the pair of them, the just flew. I honestly think that this is one of the best gigs I have seen Ian do and Greg ever so “subtly” reminded us of just what a monster musician he is.

The track I picked is “But For Chance”, it’s one of the contenders for Ian’s next album, I will be really miffed if it doesn’t make the cut, the song has managed to up residence in my head and it shows no sign of leaving.


Have a listen or three and see what you think. Jools and I had a great afternoon, there are lots worse ways to spend a Saturday arvo.

ZoomH4nBoring Tech Stuff:
The Zoom H4n recorded in Stereo @ 44.1kHz/16 bit. It was sitting on top of the mixer ( thanks Russ)  and just pointed at the stage. We were about 2.m back from the stage.  The stage right PA speaker is basically what we are hearing.

The audio recording was edited in Sound Forge and all I did was fold the left and right in to about 50% to tighten up the stereo image.

MFI at the Brunswick Music Festival

Well once again the Brunswick Music Festival rolled around (it’s the opening of festival season – sort like daffodills and spring).

This year My Friend Ian (hereinafter MFI as usual) played on the PBS  Roots stage for the Sydney Rd Street Party , it’s the opening event of the festival.  He had the band  (Ian Bland & The Lamington Drive Orchestra) with him and they played really really well.

We threw a couple of cameras up and then ran around taking stills. Jools did the video edit using Sony Vegas (she wanted to see what it could do)

Ian Bland – Jesus of Hollywood – Live at the Brunswick Music Festival

Ian’s song “Jesus of Hollywood” was a real crowd pleaser when Ian was in the UK last year, seemed to go down just as well here.

Tales Of A Zoom H4n – Liz Frencham & Pete Fidler

Photo By Jools Thatcher
Photo By Jools Thatcher
Photo By Jools Thatcher

Back in Early October My Friend Ian (MFI) scored a gig at the Clifton Hill Hotel, he was performing as a duo with Ed Bates.  BUT this isn’t about him (soon, soon my dark pet) this is about Liz Frencham & Pete Fidler.

All I can say is Wow, I remember hearing Liz play in Jigzag up at The National festival a couple of years back and noting at the time, what a cool bassist she was.  Peter Fiddler? I honestly can’t remember hearing before (and you watch – all these people will pop up and tell me all the gigs he was at and bands he played in) – I can tell you I wont be forgetting him in a hurry.

As a duo they put on a wonderful bracket, had a lot of fun (so did I), managed to showcase just how good they were (without looking like it)

I have picked out two tracks that I have had on my MP3 player since the gig.

First up is a song by Liz called All The Way Home, it’s a ripper

This one made me sit up and take notice, this was where they had settled down and were comfortable with the stage, the sound and the audience. When Liz and Pete hit the chorus I just knew that this was going to be a good night.

They followed that with one of Pete’s instrumentals called “Bell Street Blues“, I left his intro to the track on the recording.

Liz mentioned that they are two members of a trio called “Jimmy The Fish” and according to her recent tweets, they have just finished a recording – seriously looking forward to that.

If you get a chance to see Liz or Pete play in any combination  don’t pass it up. Especially Liz –  good bass players are rare, interesting ones are very rare.

ZoomH4nBoring Tech Stuff:
The Zoom H4n recorded in Stereo @ 44.1kHz/16 bit. It was sitting in a pocket on my messenger bag and just pointed at the performers. We were about 3.5m back from the stage. The room is a long skinny room with the PA at each end of the long wall.

The audio recording was edited in Sound Forge and all I did was cut out below 30Hz.

Leave Our Gigs Alone

Enda Kenny and Ian Bland
Enda Kenny and Ian Bland (photo by Jools Thatcher)

Jools and I went to see Ian and The Lamington Drive Orchestra (and yes this is the infamous MFI Ian for those of you who came in late). Needless to say I  had my bag of toys with us and for once all our tech worked.

This is one of those priceless moments where you get to capture a performance that while it was not one of  the performers best it WAS one of the highlights of the night.

Enda Kenny joined Ian and The  Lamington Drive Orchestra on stage for a song that had been written in response to some really really really stupid Victorian Govt. legislation that requires music venues to have security guards (mainly I suspect so that all the small venues will close down and their mates at the casino will be the last venue standing – but that would be me  – I may be cynical but it doesn’t mean I’m wrong – I digress)

So here it is, rough around the edges,  a PA that was struggling to keep up,  a song that had never been rehearsed before and so far from perfect that there is a gap bigger than the governments credibility on defending the arts, the musicians and the communities who are lucky enough to still enjoy the pleasure of a night down the local.

And for all it’s imperfections I love it.

Leave Our Gigs Alone [audio:LeaveOurGigsAlone.mp3]
You may recognise the tune but it is really totally different to that other song.

Recorded on the ZoomH4n and there will be some other highlights from the gig posted later.